How Far Away Should Your Cell Phone Be When You Sleep?

Sleeping next to your phone is a great way to be sure you’ll never miss a call, text, or email; however, research indicates it might be hazardous to your health. If your cell phone is near your head, under the pillow, or on the nightstand, you might want to find another place to keep it during the night.

How far away should your cell phone be when you sleep? Your phone should be at least three feet away from your bed to limit exposure to radio frequency energy. If you need to use your phone as an alarm, turn on airplane mode to prevent it from sending or receiving calls and text messages.

Although minor, the radiation emitted from cell phones can disturb your sleep. If you need your smartphone for your alarm, turn on airplane mode (steps below), increase the alarm volume, and place it at least three feet away.

Sleep Next to Cell Phone

Dangers of Sleeping Close to Your Cell Phone

It’s important to understand the potential risks of sleeping next to your cell phone so that you can take the necessary steps to avoid them. Here are some of the dangers:

1. Radiation

Radiation is a common concern among many cell phone users. Cell phones emit radio frequency energy, which is a form of radiation when they communicate with network towers. The radiation is supposedly harmless; however, having a phone next to your head on a regular basis may cause headaches and trouble sleeping. Although not conclusive, it may also lead to cancer and fertility issues in the long run. Cancer from cell phone radiation is an ongoing debate. There are those who believe that it’s currently at a safe level, but then there are those that consider any amount of radiation to be inherently dangerous. Discussed below are some tips to help you avoid radiation exposure.

Exposure is far greater when the phone is next to your head than it is a few feet away. Even if it’s just sitting there, not currently being used but connected to a network, it still emits a small amount of radiation. During the night, your cell phone usually doesn’t transmit as much as it does during the day. It will infrequently broadcast to the network while it waits for an incoming call or text. When you go into a call, you expose yourself to a higher level of radiation.

Testicular Cancer is also a concern for men who keep their cell phones in their pockets. It is recommended to use a bag or holder to keep the phone away from the body at all times. At night especially, avoid placing your cell phone near your waist.

EMF Radiation Detector

If you’re wondering how much radiation your cell phone actually gives off, consider using an analyzer, which provides accurate reading levels of radiation in your home. It not only measures your cell phone, but also other potentially harmful devices.

A reading of 0.003 microWatts per square centimeter (µW/cm2) is considered a safe level of EMF radiation for any environment. A reading of 0.002 is considered safe, while a reading of 0.007 is moderately harmful. The higher the level, the more you are exposed to EMF radiation.

The device will detect radiation from all devices within the area, including WiFi routers, smart meters, and Bluetooth devices. It can be a great way to discover how much EMF radiation you are potentially exposed to.

GQ Electromagnetic Radiation Analyzer
(view on Amazon)
The GQ meter provides an accurate reading of EMF radiation. It not only measures your cell phone, but also other potentially harmful devices.

2. Phone Heats Up

Woman Sleeping Next to Cell Phone

If you sleep with your cell phone, it’s possible to roll on top of it during the night. The device doesn’t get enough airflow and quickly heats up, possibly causing damage to the battery. Having the phone under the pillow during the night can potentially lead to a fire. This may occur if an incompatible battery is used; however, phones will normally shut down if they get too hot. The same goes for sleeping next to your phone while it’s charging since it is already warm. Having it on the bed as well can make it hot since there is no airflow, and lead to serious problems. In general, devices should be put on a hard surface to prevent them from getting too hot.

3. Trouble Sleeping

Cell phones emit blue light, which tricks your brain into thinking that it’s daytime. As you prepare for bed, the brain releases melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep cycles. Blue light affects these levels and throws off your sleeping pattern. This can lead to headaches, poor vision, and restless nights. To get a proper rest that will make you feel refreshed the next day, you need eight hours of uninterrupted, deep sleep. When your phone is right next to you, you’ll be awoken up by each alert, whether it’s a text message, email, or app notification. Even if you don’t realize or notice it during the night, the smallest ping or sound can upset your sleeping pattern.

If it’s extremely important that you need to check your phone during the night, try wearing anti eye strain glasses to protect your eyes from the harmful blue light. Most provide all-day protection, whether you’re on your computer, cell phone, tablet, or any other electronic device. Invest in ones that are dust-free and easy to clean.

4. Affects Daily Life

The constant buzzing and beeping throughout the night from notifications and messages prevents the body from getting the rest that it needs. When the body doesn’t get proper rest, it takes a toll on day-to-day activities. You may notice when waking up; you feel tired and slow. It will be more challenging to focus on different tasks, whether it be an assignment for school, a job interview, or any activity that requires focus.

Protect Yourself From Cell Phone Radiation

Woman Using Smart Phone in Bed

1. Safe Distance

Before sleeping, don’t place your cell phone next to your body or under your pillow. Put it on a table or the floor at least 3 feet away. During the day, carry your phone in a purse or bag, rather than in your pocket. This prevents you from being exposed to a higher level of radiation. If you need to carry it in your pocket, or need it as an alarm for the morning, put it on airplane mode.

2. Use Airplane Mode

Airplane mode shuts down the transceiver and prevents the device from sending and receiving signals. In other words, it disables calling and texting. When airplane mode is on, there is no radio frequency being transferred to cell towers; therefore, no radiation. Read below on how to turn this setting on.

3. Text and Speakerphone

Avoid holding the phone up to your ear. This emits radiation directly at your head. Instead, Use speakerphone or text more often. Alternatively, you can use an app such as Hangouts or Skype to avoid placing the phone beside your head.

4. Don’t Use Phone when the Signal is Low

When the cell phone signal is low, such as one or two bars, it will emit more radiation to try and reach a cell tower. So if you’re on a hike in the woods and you notice this, try to wait for a better signal.

5. Turn the Phone Off

Probably the easiest solution is just to turn the phone off when you don’t need it, especially before you sleep to avoid any interruptions. When the phone is off, you may also notice that it’s easier to relax before bed and drift off to sleep since there aren’t any distractions.

How to turn on Airplane Mode

Android Airplane Mode

Turning on your phone’s airplane mode is not just for flying. It’s a great way to avoid interruptions during the night and get a good night’s rest. Here are some quick steps on how to turn on airplane mode on Apple and Android devices.

Apple Device

  1. From the home screen, open Control Center.
  2. Tap the Airplane icon.
  3. Alternatively, you can open Settings, Airplane Mode, and then tap the slider.

Android Device

  1. Swipe down from the top of the screen to access the control panel.
  2. Locate the Airplane Mode icon and tap it.
  3. Alternatively, you can open Settings, find Airplane mode, and then tap it on.

Using Technology at Night

Woman Using Mobile Phone at Night

Using technology at night may seem like a nice way to wind down before bed, but getting into a habit of watching television or using your phone each night can have a major impact on your health, both mentally and physically. Some of the effects include anxiety, sleep disorder, and depression. Physical effects include neck and back pain, headaches, and vision problems. Most people use some sort of electronic device right before bed. This makes it very difficult to get to sleep. The stress of reading an email or sending an important text can keep you staring at the ceiling for most of the night, worrying about a response. The blue light from phones, computers, and other electronics disrupts melatonin levels and keeps us awake.

Using a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or other electronic devices before bed can have a huge impact on your sleep. The information you engage in through these devices can trigger responses in the brain that affect emotion and increase brain activity. Even a small notification sound of an email or text message can keep you on edge, preventing you from getting the sleep that you need.

Use an Anti-Blue Light Filter

If you use an iPhone or iPad, one way to protect yourself is to use a screen protector specially designed with an anti-blue light filter. They will protect your eyes from the harmful light, and they’re easy to install.

Get Into a Habit

Where you sleep should be a safe, relaxing place, free from all stress. Having your cell phone close by tells your mind subconsciously, not to relax or break free from worry, since it’s a tool for accessing important things in your life, such as work and friends.

To create an environment for sleep, electronics should be limited or shut off at certain times. Get into a habit of turning everything off at a reasonable hour such as 9pm. Make this the time where you prepare your body and mind for sleep. Put your cell phone away from the bed, and out of sight. If you’re not ready to sleep that early, get into a good book. The brain and eye muscles work hard when, reading, which makes you fall asleep quicker. This may take some getting used to since we are so used to being glued to the screen. If you start with a cutoff time at night, you’ll eventually discover how easy it is to fall asleep, and your health will improve.

Conclusion – How Far Away Should Your Cell Phone Be When You Sleep?

Using technology at night should be avoided, but if you have to have your cell phone near by, place it at least three feet away from you during the night. This will protect you from radiation (although minor), and reduce any disturbances.

Try out some of the methods in this article and see if your sleep improves. Over time you will get into a good habit of not bringing your phone to bed with you.

Kris Peter

I am a lifelong advocate of sleep, continually learning, and striving to be better than I was yesterday.

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